Southeast Travel & Adventure Guide

The Southeastern United States is an expansive region that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Deep South. It is a beautiful and historic region of the country that is famous for its food, music, history and natural wonders.

If you are planning a vacation or trip to the Southeast, then check out this guide to Southeast travel:

Southeast States:

The Southeast consists of 12 states:
North Carolina
South Carolina
West Virginia

Southeast Geography:

The Southeast is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the northern states of Maryland and Pennsylvania to the north, the Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana and Missouri the west and the Atlantic Ocean and parts of Mexico to the South.

The southeastern United States, often simply referred to as the Southeast, is a region characterized by diverse geography, including a variety of land forms, climate zones, and natural features. Here’s an overview of the geography of the Southeast:

Coastline: The Southeast is known for its extensive coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This coastline includes numerous bays, estuaries, and barrier islands. The Florida Keys, a chain of coral cays and islands, extend from the southern tip of Florida into the Gulf of Mexico.

Piedmont: Inland from the coastal areas, you find the Piedmont region, which consists of rolling hills and valleys. This transitional zone stretches from the Atlantic coastal plain to the Appalachian Mountains.

Appalachian Mountains: The eastern part of the Southeast is home to a section of the Appalachian Mountains. This mountain range includes the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains, known for their scenic beauty and national parks.

Cumberland Plateau: West of the Appalachians, you’ll find the Cumberland Plateau, a rugged and hilly area characterized by plateaus, cliffs, and deep valleys.

Mississippi River: The western edge of the Southeast is defined by the Mississippi River, one of the major river systems in North America. The river and its tributaries, like the Ohio River, have historically played a vital role in transportation and trade.

Gulf Coastal Plain: Along the Gulf of Mexico, the landscape consists of a flat and low-lying coastal plain. This area is prone to hurricanes and is known for its wetlands, swamps, and bayous.

Florida Peninsula: Florida, the southeastern most state, is a unique geographic feature in itself. It is a long, narrow peninsula with a generally flat landscape, except for the hilly region of the Florida Panhandle in the northwest.

Climate: The Southeast experiences a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot, humid summers and mild winters. Coastal areas are influenced by sea breezes, while the inland areas can have more extreme temperatures.

Natural Features: The Southeast is rich in natural beauty and resources. It’s home to the Everglades in Florida, a unique tropical wetland, as well as the Okefenokee Swamp along the Georgia-Florida border. The region also has fertile agricultural land and is known for its forests, including the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia and North Carolina.

Islands: In addition to the Florida Keys, the Southeast is dotted with numerous islands along its coastline. These include barrier islands like the Outer Banks in North Carolina and the Sea Islands in South Carolina and Georgia.

The Southeastern United States is culturally diverse and offers a mix of urban and rural areas, historic sites, and natural beauty. Its geography has played a significant role in shaping the history and culture of the region, making it a fascinating and varied part of the country.

Southeast Weather & Climate:

The climate of the Southeast is generally hot and humid in the summer and mildly cold in the winter.

The temperatures tend to increase the further South you go, with Florida experiencing the warmest temperatures in the entire Southeast.

In the summer and fall, hurricanes and tropical storms are common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

In the winter, snow storms occur occasionally, with at least .1 inch of snow falling in the Southeast each winter, except for Florida where there is virtually no snowfall.

Southeast Travel & Adventure Guide

The average temperature in the Southeast during the winter is between 32 degrees F (.4 degrees C) and 59 degrees F (15 degrees C). The coldest month of the winter is January while February is the second coldest.

The average temperature in the Southeast during the spring is between 58 degrees F (14 degrees C) and 69 degrees F (21 degrees C).

The average temperature in the Southeast during the summer is between 74 degrees F (23 degrees C) and 81 degrees F (27 degrees C). The hottest month of the summer in much of the South is July but in the Deep South it is August.

The average temperature in the Southeast during the fall is between 57 degrees F (14 degrees C) and 72 degrees F (22 degrees C).

Southeast Sightseeing:

The following are some popular tourist attractions in the Southeast:

Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock, Arkansas
Arkansas Air Museum in Fayetteville, Arkansas

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama
Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama
U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabam

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Orlando, Florida
Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida
Everglades National Park in Homestead, Florida

Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia
Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia
Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, Louisiana
Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana
National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana
Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Louisiana

Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park in Hodgenville, Kentucky
Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky

USS Cairo Museum at Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg National Cemetery in Vicksburg, Mississippi
Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Northeast Jackson, Mississippi
Elvis Presley Birthplace and Museum in Tupelo, Mississippi

North and South Carolina:
Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina
Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina
Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor in Charleston, South Carolina

Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee
Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, Tennessee

Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia
Mount Vernon in Mount Vernon, Virginia
Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia
Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area in Williamsburg, Virginia

West Virginia:
Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia
West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia
West Virginia State Museum at the Culture Center in Charleston, West Virginia

Popular Foods in the Southeast:

The Southeast is famous for its food. The region is home to some of the best food in the country and no trip to the South would be complete without sampling some of the local cuisine:

Arkansas Foods:
Hubcap Burger: a type of hamburger that is known for its oversized and distinctive appearance. It is named after the hubcap of a car wheel due to its large size and the way it often extends beyond the bun, resembling a hubcap.

Possum Pie: Possum Pie is not actually made with possum as an ingredient, despite its name. This pie is known for its rich and indulgent ingredients, making it a sweet treat for those with a sweet tooth. The name “Possum Pie” is likely a whimsical or humorous reference rather than an actual description of its contents.

Griddled Pimento Cheese Sandwich with Bacon Jam: a beloved Southern comfort food that consists of a sandwich that balances the creaminess and tanginess of the pimento cheese with the smoky sweetness of the bacon jam.

Arkansas Delta Tamales: a unique regional variation of tamales found in the Mississippi Delta region of eastern Arkansas. They have distinct characteristics that set them apart from the more well-known Mexican-style tamales such as cornmeal-based dough and they tend to be smaller and more oblong in shape than traditional Mexican tamales.

Chocolate Gravy: a sweet chocolate sauce typically served over biscuits.

Alabama Foods:
Fried Pork Skins: Fried pork skins, often referred to as pork rinds or chicharrones, are a popular snack made from the skin of a pig.

Orange Rolls: a sweet and citrus-flavored baked treat known for their soft, fluffy texture and sweet, tangy orange glaze.

Sweet Potato Fluff: also known as sweet potato casserole or sweet potato soufflé, it is a classic Southern American side dish, particularly popular during Thanksgiving and other holiday feasts.

Shrimp & Grits: a classic Southern American dish that combines two key ingredients: shrimp and grits. It’s a savory and comforting dish known for its rich flavors and creamy, hearty texture.

Baked Grits: a delicious and comforting Southern American dish made from grits, a type of ground corn that has been treated with an alkali to remove the hull. Baking the grits creates a creamy, casserole-like texture that’s often seasoned and served as a side dish.

Chicken and White Sauce: also known as white sauce chicken, it is a classic comfort food dish that features tender pieces of chicken served with a creamy white sauce.

Fried Green Tomatoes: a popular Southern American dish that features unripe, green tomatoes coated in a seasoned cornmeal or flour mixture and then fried until they are crispy and golden brown.

Florida Foods:
Stone Crabs: a type of crab known for their delicious and sweet-tasting claw meat. They are a prized seafood delicacy, particularly in the coastal regions of Florida, where they are harvested and enjoyed.

Cuban Sandwich: a popular and iconic sandwich that originated in the Cuban community of Miami, Florida. It’s a delicious and flavorful sandwich made with a combination of ingredients that reflect the cultural influences of both Cuban and American cuisine.

Gator Tail: a type of meat that comes from the tail of an alligator. It is consumed as a delicacy in some parts of the United States, particularly in the southern states where alligator hunting is legal.

Florida Seafood Stew: a hearty and flavorful soup or stew that showcases the abundance of seafood found in the waters around the state of Florida.

Fried Grouper Sandwich: a popular and delicious seafood sandwich that features a breaded and fried fillet of grouper, a mild and flaky saltwater fish.

Key Lime Pie: a beloved and iconic dessert that originated in the Florida Keys, particularly in Key West. It’s known for its sweet, tart, and creamy filling made from key lime juice, which is complemented by a crumbly graham cracker crust.

Georgia Foods:
Boiled Peanuts: a popular Southern snack and street food known for their unique preparation method and distinct flavor. They are made by boiling raw, unripe peanuts in their shells in a seasoned, salty water bath until they become soft and tender.

Georgia Wild Shrimp: shrimp that are caught in the coastal waters of the state of Georgia, located in the southeastern United States. Georgia wild shrimp are highly regarded for their freshness, flavor, and sustainability.

Chicken & Dumplings: a classic comfort food dish that typically consists of tender pieces of chicken cooked in a savory broth with dumplings, which are soft and doughy balls or strips.

Fried Apple Pie: a delicious and popular dessert that consists of a sweet apple filling encased in a flaky pastry shell, which is deep-fried to a golden brown, crispy perfection.

Kentucky Foods:
Hot Brown sandwich: a classic open-faced sandwich that originated in Louisville, Kentucky.

Burgoo: a hearty and flavorful stew that originated in the American Midwest, particularly in the state of Kentucky.

Benedictine: a classic and distinctive cucumber-flavored spread or dip that originated in the United States, specifically in the region around Louisville, Kentucky.

Spoonbread: a traditional Southern American dish that falls somewhere between a pudding and a bread. It’s a creamy, custard-like dish with a slightly soufflé-like texture.

Shaker Lemon Pie: a pie celebrated for its unique and intense lemon flavor, as it uses the entire lemon, including the peel, to create a sweet and tart filling

Transparent Pudding and Pie: two desserts known for their simplicity, using basic ingredients to create sweet, comforting, and translucent fillings.

Corn Pudding: a classic American side dish that combines sweet corn with a creamy, custard-like filling.

Goetta: a regional specialty known for its unique blend of ingredients, including ground meat (typically pork and beef), steel-cut oats, and seasonings.

Louisiana Foods:
Jamabalaya: a popular and flavorful one-pot dish that hails from the Creole and Cajun cuisines of Louisiana, particularly in the New Orleans area. It’s known for its bold and robust flavors, combining rice with a variety of meats, vegetables, and seasonings.

Gumbo: a rich and flavorful soup or stew that is a hallmark of both Creole and Cajun cuisines, particularly in the southern U.S. state of Louisiana. It’s a beloved dish known for its complexity, often featuring a mix of proteins, vegetables, and seasonings served over rice.

Red Beans and Rice: a classic and beloved dish that has its origins in Creole and Cajun cuisine that consists of red kidney beans cooked with a variety of seasonings and served over white or brown rice.

Turtle Soup: a unique and traditional dish that, as the name suggests, features turtle meat as its primary ingredient. This soup has a long history in American cuisine, particularly in the Creole and Cajun traditions of Louisiana.

Boudin: a flavorful and distinctive sausage that has its origins in French and Cajun cuisine and is known for its rich, spiced, and often slightly tangy flavor.

Mississippi Foods:
Catfish and Hushpuppies: a classic Southern American meal that combines fried catfish fillets with a side of hushpuppies.

Slugburgers: burgers with a distinct history and feature an unusual ingredient: a mixture of ground meat and an inexpensive, starchy filler like soybean meal or flour.

Kool-Aid Pickles: a unique and somewhat unconventional Southern American snack or condiment. This dish combines the tangy and sour flavors of pickles with the sweetness and vibrant colors of Kool-Aid drink mix.

North Carolina Foods:
Biscuits & Gravy: a classic and hearty American breakfast dish that consists of soft biscuits smothered in creamy sausage gravy

Livermush: a type of sausage or meatloaf made primarily from pig liver, head parts, and cornmeal.

Brunswick Stew: a stew is known for its rich, smoky, and slightly sweet flavor, often featuring a combination of meats and vegetables.

South Carolina Foods:
Carolina Gold Rice: a historic and heirloom variety of rice that holds a significant place in the culinary history of the Southern United States, particularly in the Carolina Lowcountry region.

Chow-Chow: a versatile and colorful mixture made from a variety of pickled vegetables and fruits, typically including ingredients like cabbage, green tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and sometimes hot peppers.

Benne Wafers: thin, crisp, and slightly sweet cookies are known for their unique nutty flavor, which comes from the use of toasted sesame seeds (benne seeds) as a key ingredient.

Tennessee Foods:
Nashville Hot Chicken: a spicy and fiery fried chicken dish that originates from Nashville, Tennessee and is known for its bold, cayenne pepper-based seasoning, which creates a spicy and flavorful coating on crispy fried chicken.

Hot Fish Sandwich: a popular and delicious sandwich made with a breaded and fried fish fillet, typically served on a bun or sliced bread and often accompanied by various toppings and condiments

Fried Bolonga Sandwich: a classic and straightforward comfort food sandwich made with slices of bologna that have been fried until they are crispy and slightly caramelized.

BBQ Spaghetti: tender, slow-cooked pulled pork or smoked sausage, combined with a tangy and smoky barbecue sauce, served over cooked spaghetti.

Moonpies: two round graham cracker cookies with a marshmallow filling in the center, all coated in a flavored glaze, typically chocolate. MoonPies are a classic and iconic Southern treat that has been enjoyed for generations.

Vinegar Pie: a unique, sweet-tart flavor and a custard-like texture that has earned it a place in American culinary history.

Virginia Foods:
Fry pies (fried pies): a type of portable dessert or snack that consists of a sweet or fruit-filled pastry pocket that is deep-fried until golden brown and crispy.

Ham & Biscuits: a classic Southern American dish that consists of biscuits served with slices of ham and sometimes accompanied by a rich and creamy white gravy.

Peanut Pie: a dessert that features a filling made primarily from peanuts, similar to pecan pie but with peanuts as the star ingredient.

Peanut Soup: a savory and hearty soup made primarily with ground peanuts as its main ingredient.

Baked Oysters: a delicious and popular seafood dish that features fresh oysters baked with a variety of flavorful toppings.

Shad Roe: egg sacs or ovaries of the female shad fish, which are harvested and prepared for consumption.

West Virginia Foods:
Pepperoni Rolls: rolls that feature a soft and fluffy bread dough filled with slices of pepperoni and often melted cheese. These rolls originated in the Appalachian region of the United States, particularly in West Virginia.

Grape & Gorgonzola Pizza: a delightful and unconventional pizza variety that combines the sweetness of grapes with the creamy and tangy flavors of Gorgonzola cheese.

Ramps & Fried Potatoes: a simple yet flavorful dish that combines the earthy, pungent taste of ramps with the comforting and crispy texture of fried potatoes. Ramps, also known as wild leeks or wild garlic, are wild-growing spring onions with a garlicky and onion-like flavor.

Venison Stew: a hearty and flavorful dish made from the meat of deer, specifically venison. It’s a popular dish among hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, as well as those who appreciate the rich, gamey flavor of venison.

Appalachian BBQ: Appalachian barbecue is characterized by its simplicity, use of pork as the primary meat, and a focus on slow-cooking methods.

The West Virginia Dog: a unique and indulgent hot dog preparation that features a combination of chili, coleslaw, mustard, and onions.

Baked Steak and Gravy: a classic comfort food dish that consists of tenderized and seasoned steak, typically beef, that is baked in the oven with a flavorful gravy.

Best States for Shopping in the Southeast:

Virginia: (Low sales tax on clothing and has many boutique shops and malls).

Southeast Hotels:

The Southeastern United States is home to a wide range of hotels, catering to various tastes and budgets.

Here are some of the best hotels in the Southeast:

The Cloister at Sea Island (Sea Island, Georgia): This luxurious resort on the coast of Georgia offers elegant rooms, world-class golf courses, a spa, and a range of outdoor activities. The Cloister consistently ranks among the top resorts in the U.S.

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island (Amelia Island, Florida): Situated on a beautiful stretch of Florida’s coastline, this Ritz-Carlton property offers luxurious accommodations, a golf course, a spa, and multiple dining options.

The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Auberge Resorts Collection (Bluffton, South Carolina): Located in a picturesque Lowcountry setting, this upscale inn offers luxurious cottages, a spa, fine dining, and a range of outdoor activities, including kayaking and boating.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (Kiawah Island, South Carolina): Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this resort is renowned for its stunning beachfront location, world-class golf courses, and upscale amenities. The Sanctuary offers luxurious rooms and suites.

The Hermitage Hotel (Nashville, Tennessee): As one of Nashville’s historic landmarks, The Hermitage Hotel combines timeless elegance with modern comforts. It’s known for its luxurious accommodations and outstanding dining at the Capitol Grille.

The St. Regis Atlanta (Atlanta, Georgia): Located in Atlanta’s upscale Buckhead neighborhood, The St. Regis offers luxurious rooms, a spa, fine dining at Atlas Restaurant, and butler service for every guest.

The Inn at Little Washington (Washington, Virginia): Although technically located in Virginia, this inn is often considered part of the Southeast due to its proximity. It’s renowned for its award-winning restaurant and luxurious rooms in a charming historic setting.

Montage Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton, South Carolina): This upscale resort in the Lowcountry offers spacious cottages and a range of activities, including boating, golf, and access to a nature preserve.

The Ballantyne, a Luxury Collection Hotel (Charlotte, North Carolina): Located in Charlotte, this luxury hotel offers elegant rooms, a golf course, spa, and dining at the Gallery Restaurant.

The Dewberry Charleston (Charleston, South Carolina): Situated in Charleston’s historic district, The Dewberry combines mid-century modern design with Southern charm. It features luxurious rooms and a rooftop terrace with stunning city views.

These are just a few examples of upscale and highly-rated hotels in the Southeastern U.S. Keep in mind that the availability, quality, and pricing of hotels can vary, so it’s advisable to check recent reviews and ratings to ensure they meet your specific preferences and needs.

For more American travel guides, check out our homepage at:

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